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Rampant misuse of oxygen in Pune Covid hospitals, find govt audit teams

District officials said they were able to stabilise the situation after panic in hospitals over oxygen shortage. Officials said some shortage was being created by the hospitals themselves, who were not using oxygen judiciously.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: May 12, 2021 8:47:00 pm
An oxygen audit at a Covid hospital in Pune

The Pune district administration, which has appointed 111 two-member squads to conduct oxygen audits in hospitals across the district, has found rampant misuse of the lifesaving gas. District officials claim they have largely succeeded in rationalising the use of oxygen, which has helped keep demand on an even keel with supply.

“The demand and supply position of oxygen in Pune district is stable now. Hospitals in Pune district are not experiencing shortage of the life-saviour,” Additional Collector Vijaysinh Deshmukh told The Indian Express on Tuesday.

District officials said they were able to stabilise the situation after panic in hospitals over oxygen shortage. Officials said some shortage was being created by the hospitals themselves, who were not using oxygen judiciously.

During the initial oxygen audits, rampant misuse of oxygen was found, which was the main reason behind the oxygen shortage in hospitals, said Deshmukh. This has now led to the formation of 111 squads, which includes two members. Each squad has engineering college teachers and professors as members, who have been given training regarding optimum use of oxygen in hospitals.

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Deshmukh said the professors have to carefully fill up the oxgen audit inspection and oxygen weaning protocol form after examining the system in place at the hospitals. “The professors will have to train the hospital staff, doctors, nurses or paramedical staff regarding the Oxygen Weaning Protocol Form,” he said. “On the other hand, the hospitals will have to fill up and submit self-certification form to the squads. This should be filled up by technically qualified persons,” he said.

District officials said they were taken aback by the way medical oxygen was being utilised by hospitals for Covid-19 patients. “When a Covid-19 patient is on oxygen support, his oxygen saturation should be maintained at 92 to 94 per cent. However, we found that hospitals were maintaining oxygen saturation level at 98 per cent. This is dangerous…It is could cause lung fibriosis or mucormycosis,” he said, adding that hospitals have been warned about serious consequences of more than required use of oxygen. “In some hospitals, it was seen that instead of two litre per minute oxygen use, over 8 litre per minute oxygen was being used.”

In some hospitals, Deshmukh said, leakages were noticed in pipelines. “The leakages were either in pipelines or valves or at other spots. They were noticed right from oxygen tank to the ward or ICUs. Oxygen wastage through these leakages were common. Hospitals have been told to plug them and carry out regular maintenance,” he said.

Deshmukh said it was also noticed that in wards, patients were themselves lowering or increasing the oxygen levels. “Instead of an oxygen nurse, the patients themselves were deciding the use of oxygen, which was a risky proposition,” he said.

Deshmukh said some patients were on oxygen though they did not require it. “Instead of verifying whether the patient was stable and does not require oxygen, the patient continued to use oxygen though he did not require it. This is a common pratice in most hospitals, leading to wastage,” he said.

Pune district is consuming 300 to 325 tonnes of oxygen every day. “Pune district gets oxygen from four plants in Chakan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Odisha. We have to provide oxygen to neighbouring districts as well. From Karnataka, the oxygen supply has come down drastically due to the Karnataka government’s decision. Two plants in Chakan were also not working. However, they have started working since yesterday,” he said.

Deshmukh said hospitals are being told to plug the loopholes within a stipulated timeframe.

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